YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Nearly Magical Tomato Sauce

Thanks (and I really mean that!) to my daughter and her friend, among whose many talents I would definitely include garden building, we now have so many tomatoes it’s hard to know what to do with all of them. It’s a wonderful problem to have. I’ve actually been dreaming about dehydrated tomatoes, pickled tomatoes, marinated tomatoes, skewered tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, and … sauced tomatoes.

Tomato sauces come in all different shapes and everybody has their favorite. But every once in a while a recipe comes along that is just a little bit different, whether by technique or special ingredient or, maybe, both. That’s what’s going on in this tomato sauce. Inspired by Steve Sando at Rancho Gordo, Napa Valley resident and purveyor of the most extraordinarily delicious beans I personally have ever tasted, I bring you my adaptation of Steve’s Nearly Magic Tomato Sauce.

3 thick slices of onion (white or yellow) with the skins intact

2 cloves garlic, unpeeled

1 stick cinnamon

1 tsp. oregano (dry)

3-4 whole, peeled tomatoes (fresh or canned), plus 1/4 cup of canning juice or vegetable stock

1 tsp. tomato paste

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt, more to taste

extra vegetable stock

In a large cast iron skillet with raised sides or a Dutch oven, roast the onion slices and garlic over medium for approx. 10 minutes until soft. Remove skillet or Dutch oven from heat. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skins from the onion and garlic.

Roast the cinnamon stick in the same skillet (Dutch oven), shaking often, for 2 minutes, until it becomes aromatic.

Add tomatoes, tomato juice or stock, tomato paste, oregano, onion and garlic to a blender, and blend until smooth. Add a bit more liquid if necessary to keep the mixture from getting stuck in the blades.

In the same skillet (Dutch oven), heat olive oil over medium heat, pour in tomato mixture, and begin stirring constantly. Raise heat to medium-high so mixture begins to simmer gently, and continue to stir until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick, season with salt, and thin, if desired, with more stock, just one or two teaspoons at a time.

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